In 1970, the FCC introduced two new regulations, the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (Fin-Syn) and the Prime Time Access Rule (PTAR), that had a considerable effect on quiz/game show producers and on the television industry in general. Fin-Syn limited network ownership of television programs beyond their network run and increased the control of independent producers over their shows. The producers' financial situation and their creative control was significantly improved. Additionally, PTAR gave control of the 7:00-7:30 P.M. time slot to local stations. The intention of this change was to create locally based programming, but the time period was usually filled with syndicated programs, primarily inexpensive quiz and tabloid news offerings. The overall situation of quiz/game show producers was substantially improved by the FCC rulings.
As a result, a number of new quiz shows began to appear in the mid-1970s. They were, of course, all in color, and relied on extremely bright and flashy sets, strong, primary colors, and a multitude of aural and visual elements. In addition to this transformation traditionally solemn atmosphere of quiz shows the programs were thoroughly altered in terms of content. Many of the 1970s quiz shows introduced an element of gambling to their contests (e.g. The Joker's Wild, The Big Showdown) and moved them further from a clear "academic" and serious knowledge toward an everyday, ordinary knowledge.
Blatant consumerism, in particular, began to play an important role in quiz shows such as The Price is Right and Sale of the Century as the distinctions between quiz and game shows became increasingly blurred in this period. As Graham points out in Come on Down!!!, quiz shows had to change in the 1970s, adapting to a new cultural environment that included flourishing pop culture and countercultures. Mark Goodson's answer to this challenge on The Price is Right was to create a noisy, carnival atmosphere that challenged cultural norms and assumptions represented in previous generations of quiz shows.
The same type of show remained prevalent in the 1980s, though most of them now appear primarily in syndication and, to a lesser extent, on cable channels. Both Wheel of Fortune and a new version of Jeopardy are extremely successful as syndicated shows in the prime time access slot (7:00-8:00 P.M.). In what may become a trend Lifetime Television has introduced two quiz shows combining everyday knowledge (of consumer products) with physical contests (shopping as swiftly--and as expensively--as possible). These shows, Supermarket Sweep and Shop 'Til You Drop, also challenge assumptions about cultural norms and the value of everyday knowledge. In particular they focus on "women's knowledge," and thus effectively address the predominantly female audience of this cable channel.
One future area of growth for quiz shows in the era of cable television, then, seems to be the creation of this type of "signature show" that appeals to the relatively narrowly defined target audience of specific cable channels. Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, then, notable examples to be sure, remain as the primary representatives of the quiz show genre, small legacy for one of the more powerful and popular forms of television.